Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters here. None, nada, zip, zilch. It is not my intent to infringe upon the rights of this show's creators, writers, etc. I am making no money off this and it is in no way intended for sale.
Note: This is not a sequel to my last story. In some cases, I have borrowed the full names of some characters off Heidi's Planeteer site (), so give her the credit, not me. Wheeler and Linka's surnames are either official (as in Wheeler's case) or fan approved (regarding Linka); so don't blame me if you don't like it.
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 23, 1998
The Planeteers had caught Doctor Barbara Blight red-handed. She had been licensing herself out to companies to test various products while performing illegal experiments on helpless animals. Although this was not a new scheme among Blight's repertoire of heinous crimes, it was one of the worst. Animals of all species, ranging from domesticated cats and dogs to wild birds and horses, were among her victims.
"We are taking you down, Doctor," Kwame Kambuto stated, aiming his ring at the mad scientist. "Make one move, and I shall shake this place apart."
"Yeah, and I'll roast whatever's left," Wheeler Sloane threatened.
Pressed up against the cold hard steel walls of her lab, Blight had nowhere to run. She glanced over at her diabolical computer partner, MAL, for help. "Do something, MAL!"
"Humans…" MAL sneered. He extended his robotic arm to grab what resembled some sort of futuristic laser cannon. Gripping the weapon tightly, MAL aimed it at the two young men. "I would suggest you release the good Doctor, or I will be forced to use this on you."
Entering the room, having freed the captured animals, were the other three Planeteers: Linka Ivanova, Gi Shang and Ma-Ti Garcia. Seeing more targets, MAL pulled his arm back and leveled the cannon at all of the Planeteers.
"Um… what happened?" Ma-Ti asked. He hadn't expected to see a weapon pointed at him.
"Doctor Blight and I reassessed the situation," MAL smirked. "Now, everyone line up against the wall across from us."
Having no other recourse but to follow instructions, the Planeeters did as told. Linka, moving next to Wheeler, leaned towards him. "I thought you and Kwame said you could handle this."
"We could," Wheeler shrugged. "That is, until we found out Blight was armed."
Blight put her hands to her hips and chuckled. "What's the matter, Punkateers? Lose your spine when you have to take on an enemy who can actually fight back?"
"Killing us won't save your operation," Gi said.
"True, but if you're gone, then I won't have to worry about you five mucking up any future plans," Blight grinned. "Who do we shoot first, MAL? Blondie's always gotten on my nerves."
MAL processed her inquiry for a second. "I'd suggest the Planeteer who can shoot fire. His power has the most potential to be destructive. Eliminate him, and their offensive capabilities are not only severely reduced, but they cannot call Captain Planet."
"You're right, MAL baby," Blight nodded. "Hey firebug, any last words?"
Wheeler's eyes went wide with shock. He had always wondered if he would die on a mission. Before he could speak, Wheeler felt Linka grab his right hand. "Wheeler, I…I…" the Russian blonde stammered, looking for the right words to express her feelings.
"Awww… isn't this sweet," Blight laughed.
Watching the scene closely, Kwame decided that now was the time to strike. He quickly raised his ring and shouted, "Earth!"
The result was a floor-cracking, wall-splintering earthquake that shook the entire lab. The Planeteers and Blight fought to balance themselves, but were knocked to the ground. Due to the shockwave Kwame created, MAL accidentally lost control and fired his weapon at both Linka and Wheeler. A beam of energy flew forth and the two disappeared, leaving only a few wisps of smoke where they had been standing mere moments before. Surprised, MAL dropped the cannon, which sparked and ultimately broke upon hitting the floor. "Whoops…" MAL muttered.
Quickly jumping to his feet, Kwame looked around, completely horrified. "Wheeler! Linka!"
"What did you do to them?" Ma-Ti demanded. Rarely did the South American boy lose his temper, but he had just witnessed the possible death of two friends. "Answer me Blight, or I swear, I'll turn you into a drooling vegetable with my ring!"
"You want to know what happened?" MAL sighed. "I'll tell you—when you Planet-Pests decided to play 'shake, rattle and roll' with our lab, my system temporarily hiccupped. I inadvertently fired the TDWC and that, as you flesh-bags say, is that."
Holding her head, Blight looked at MAL, ignoring the remaining—and very distressed—Planeteers. "MAL…did you just say the TDWC?"
"What's a TDWC?" Gi asked, fighting to hold back tears.
"Your friends aren't dead," Blight sighed, completely exasperated. She pressed a button on her computer console and the image of the very same weapon MAL threatened them with appeared. "The Time Displacement Warp Cannon, or as we prefer to call it, the TDWC, is an energy beam emitter which can send people back and forth through time."
"And you shot our friends with this for what reason?" Kwame inquired.
"I…um…that is, Doctor Blight ordered me to do something and I grabbed the nearest thing without realizing what it was," MAL admitted. "We had intended to kill them—all of you really. This is most unprecedented."
"You'll forgive us if we don't sympathize with you," Gi rejoined.
"Okay…" Ma-Ti began, kneeling down to inspect the damaged remains of the TDWC, "so Wheeler and Linka might be alive. Where are they then?"
Blight walked over to Ma-Ti and inspected the device. She warily gazed over at Ma-Ti while kneeling—she didn't know the full capabilities of his ring. Unlike the other four Planeteers, he had never been aggressive with his power. As far as Blight knew, he could be bluffing about wiping her mind, but she didn't want to take the chance. "Hmmm…" Blight mumbled under her breath. "It seems they were sent to the future."
"The future?" Kwame repeated. "How is that possible?"
"I could go into the details, but your infinitesimal mind wouldn't be able to comprehend any of it," MAL spat. "Let me just say that if the TDWC was set to travel to the future, then they are there—or perhaps split into millions of atoms, scattered across space and time. Either way, they are somewhere other than here."
Gi still had a question that was unanswered. "How far into the future?"
Tugging on the collar of her form-fitting hot pink jumpsuit, Blight looked directly at Gi. "According to the readout on the TDWC, I'd say twenty-six years. That means they'd be in the year 2024."
Upon hearing this piece of news, Kwame, Gi and Ma-Ti looked at each other, unsure what to think or believe. The whole situation sounded preposterous and yet, in their line of work, the Planeteers had learned to accept some very crazy things.
Speaking up first, Kwame stomped over to Blight. "Let us assume you are correct—what can we do to bring them back?"
"There is a return feature built into the TDWC," MAL informed. "I assume it will send them back to our time; however, it has never been tested. In fact, this was the TDWC's first real test at all."
"And it's broken…" Gi frowned.
"You will fix it," Ma-Ti insisted. "You will repair it and bring them back home."
"Oh?" Blight smirked. "And if I don't, what then?"
"I will do as I promised before—render you a mental invalid," Ma-Ti growled. "Or, I might order the animals you had caged up to return here and kill you themselves."
Joining in, Kwame raised his ring up high. "If you'd rather, I could crush you with falling rocks or tear you apart by forming stalactites and stalagmites above and below you."
"Then there's always fun to be had with dehydration or causing the water in your blood to boil and expand, so that you eventually bleed to death," Gi said, following Ma-Ti and Kwame's lead.
"Okay! Okay!" Blight shouted, wanting them to stop. "I get the point—I'll help you."
MAL was stunned. He hadn't thought the undeniably evil Doctor Blight would ever cave into the Planeteers and their demands. "You will?"
"Yes," Blight replied, through gritted teeth. "You will too."
Location: New York, USA
Date: August 14, 2024
With a startling flash, Wheeler and Linka landed on hard concrete. To be more precise, Linka landed on Wheeler. That hurt. Lying on his back, Wheeler slowly exhaled and looked up at Linka. "You okay, babe?"
"I have been better," Linka replied. She stood up and dusted herself off. "Are you all right? I did not mean to land on you so hard."
"I'm fine," Wheeler said, getting up slowly. Although Wheeler would never admit it, especially to Linka, he hurt like hell. "Just a few bruises. Nothing to worry about."
"Where are we?" Linka asked, looking around. She saw they were in what appeared to be an alley, except that it was clean. No garbage, no filth, no graffiti or even any rodents or insects. The latter two Linka was especially thankful for—she hated rats and bugs.
"No idea," Wheeler mumbled, more to himself than Linka. "I'm just surprised to see us anywhere—I thought for certain we were dead."
"Well… let us find out where we are," Linka urged. She walked out of the alley and onto the street with Wheeler following close behind. The scene that greeted the two Planeteers was something out of a science-fiction movie. Storefronts were brightly lit, computer terminals were stationed everywhere, and cars hovered above the streets attached by thin magnetic beams. In the distance, they could see huge skyscrapers, with shuttles buzzing around the individual compartments of each tower. Possibly the most remarkable sight was what was absent—most notably litter, or the stink of fossil fuels in the air.
"Bozhe moy…" Linka muttered. She quickly turned to Wheeler, and asked, "How do you know we are not dead?"
Linka squirmed. "What if this is some sort of… I do not know… place we go when we die?"
"I don't think so," Wheeler said. "At least I don't think it'd look like this. I wouldn't know for sure."
While Linka contemplated the afterlife, Wheeler scanned the area. His eyes stopped on a computer terminal nestled between two stores. "Linka, let's try that out," Wheeler suggested, pointing to the terminal.
Linka shrugged and followed Wheeler over to the computer station. Tripping its infrared sensors, the computer flipped on and greeted the Planeteers, "Welcome. I hope you are having a fine day in New York."
"New York?" Wheeler was startled. This was not the New York he knew.
"Yes, New York," the computer replied. "Would you like a brief history of the city, going back to its original incarnation as New Amsterdam?"
"Nyet—" Linka began, but was cut off by the computer.
"'Nyet,'" the compute repeated and showed a world map that zoomed in on Russia. "This means 'no' in Russian."
Wheeler pulled Linka to the side. "This thing is really beginning to annoy me. Anytime we say anything, it goes off on a tangent."
"Then we will have to phrase our questions carefully, Yankee," Linka whispered. She turned back to the computer and thought over the best way to phrase her next question. "What is today's date?"
"August 14, 2024," the machine responded.
This piece of news startled the two Planeteers. "The future?" Wheeler gasped.
Linka slowly nodded. "It makes sense. Why else would there be flying cars and crazy talking computers?"
"Gave up on the we-are-dead idea, huh?" Wheeler snickered.
"I was just in shock from time traveling," Linka countered, lying through her teeth. "I would never really think about something so ridiculous."
"Right…" Wheeler grinned. "Okay, so MAL sends us to the future. Could be worse, right?"
"I just do not understand how we got here," Linka sighed. "I had always read that time traveling to the future was impossible since it has not yet happened."
"Whoever wrote that never time traveled, I guess," Wheeler shrugged. "I suppose it doesn't matter—we're here and we need to figure out how to return home."
"Da," Linka agreed and turned back the computer terminal. "Where can we go to time travel?"
"Query not understood," the computer returned. "Would you care to make traveling arrangements?"
Linka frowned and tried again. "Is time travel possible?"
The computer whirred for a moment before responding. "Theoretically it is; however, the necessary scientific research has yet to be properly funded. Supposedly, the Planeteers have come across time travelers and even experienced it themselves."
Wheeler and Linka looked at each other, both surprised to hear that the Planeteers still existed. "Where are the Planeteers?" Wheeler asked.
"At the Eco-Plaza in Manhattan," was the machine's answer. It then spit out the address.
Wheeler couldn't resist the opportunity to know his future. "Where am I today?"
The computer immediately queried, "Who are you?"
"Oh yeah, right…" Wheeler said, somewhat embarrassed. "Wheeler Sloane."
"Wheeler Sloane, age fifty-one, former Planeteer; married with two children and operates his own law firm," the computer told them. "If you wish to contact Wheeler Sloane, you may reach him at Sloane, Cohen and Bryant & Associates."
"Wow. So I'm a big shot lawyer—who'd have guessed that?" Wheeler smiled. Then a sudden realization dawned on him. "I'm married? I've got two kids?"
"What did you expect, Wheeler?" Linka laughed. "That would you would remain single forever?"
"Well… no, but…" Wheeler trailed off.
Linka laughed again at Wheeler's bewilderment and decided to ask about herself. "Can you tell me about Linka Ivanova?"
The response was quick. "For information on Linka Ivanova, please see Linka Sloane."
"Bozhe moy!" Linka exclaimed and glanced at Wheeler. Equally surprised, Wheeler just looked at her, but with a big dopey grin on his face.
"So that's who my wife is," Wheeler chuckled. "Tell us about Linka Sloane."
"Linka Sloane, age fifty, former Planeteer; married with two children and is a medical doctor with her own private practice," the computer informed. "If you wish to reach her or schedule an appointment, please check the New York City physician roster, available online or in print for a nominal fee."
Linka's mind was reeling. She couldn't believe that she was a doctor; especially after believing she would never have the marks to enter medical school. Then, there was being married to Wheeler. She truly liked the idea as she did love him, but she couldn't quite see him as a husband or a father. The entire situation was far too surreal. "I am so confused. Time traveling, marriage, kids, lawyers, doctors…."
"Yeah, it is pretty weird," Wheeler said, putting an arm around her waist. "What about our kids? Um…okay, how to ask this…"
"Who are the current Planeteers?" Linka inquired. Wheeler looked quizzically at her. "I have a theory," Linka told him, "and I need to see if I am correct."
"The current Planeteers are as follows," the computer began, "Kya Kambuto, controller of the Earth ring, daughter of former Planeteer Kwame Kambuto; Matthew Sloane, controller of the Fire ring, son of former Planeteers Wheeler and Linka Sloane; Katherine Sloane, controller of the Wind ring, daughter of former Planeteers Wheeler and Linka Sloane, Xian Koji, controller of the Water ring, son of former Planeeter Gi Shang and Stephanie Weber, controller of the Heart ring." No images accompanied the descriptions due to security protocols.
Wheeler raised an eyebrow at the mention of Heart. "So what happened to Ma-Ti?"
"Ma-Ti Garcia, died April 30, 2000," the machine answered. "Reasons currently unknown—rumors indicate Duke Nukem involved."
"Nukem killed Ma-Ti?" Linka shuttered. Although highly irrational, she had never truly thought any one of them would die. "I cannot believe it…"
"Yeah, well, I don't really believe any of this," Wheeler frowned. "Hey, you want to head down to this Eco-Plaza and check it out?"
"Da," Linka replied. "Maybe we can get some answers there."
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 23, 1998
"Is it working yet?" Kwame inquired for the thirty-seventh consecutive time in the last half hour.
"No, it is not working yet," Blight growled. Already angry at having her experiments ruined, she was furious at being forced to help the Planeteers. The fact that one of them had absolutely no patience did nothing to help her mood. "It'll be fixed when it's fixed."
Ma-Ti took a seat and drummed his fingers on one of the many steel tables in the lab. "When do you think it'll be ready then?"
"Given the extensive damage done to the TDWC by MAL and earth-boy over there," Blight sneered, "it could be days. Maybe even weeks."
"Wheeler and Linka can't wait that long!" Gi complained. "Who knows what could be happening to them!"
"Cool your jets, Yoko," Blight sighed. "MAL, explain to them why this isn't a big deal, okay? I've got to see if we have any more plutonium in back."
"Plutonium?" Kwame gasped. "That stuff's radioactive!"
"What? You think a few double-A batteries power this thing?" MAL scoffed. Sometimes he couldn't get over the stupidity of humans. "Now, as to the question in hand—why doesn't it matter when we get your teammates back? Simple. They are in the future, not the past. Whatever they do will not affect us here, and while they could pose a very mild threat to the timeline there, the overall damage would be negligible."
"But, they could still get hurt or die there," Ma-Ti pointed out.
"True," MAL conceded. "I seriously doubt the good doctor and I would be so lucky as for that to occur."
"Keep it up MAL, and I'll go dig out a huge magnet," Gi threatened.
"Well…I've got bad news," Blight said, returning from the back room. Not waiting for any of them to ask for the information, she simply divulged it. "We're out of plutonium. Don't believe me, go check."
Kwame considered this. They could check, but then Blight could also lock them up in there, with whatever harmful items she had stored. Worse yet, from inside the back room, the Planeteers could not affect Blight or MAL with their rings, effectively leaving Wheeler and Linka at the evil pair's mercy. "I think we will take your word on this."
"So what do we do now?" Ma-Ti asked, losing hope as the situation worsened.
"You have three choices," MAL began, "you can either request the necessary material from whatever government you choose, steal the plutonium yourselves or let your friends rot."
"I don't know of any government that would allow us to handle plutonium, especially when Doctor Blight's involved," Gi thought out loud. "Of course… given the circumstances, maybe they would make some sort of special deal?"
Kwame shook his head. "I doubt it. Even if they did allow us, the process would be tied up in bureaucratic tape for months, possibly even years."
"I know this will sound crazy, but what about the black market or something like that?" Ma-Ti suggested.
"You'll run into the same problem MAL and I had with our original supply," Blight told him. "It took six months for it to arrive."
"I guess we'll just have to steal it," Gi said, unable to believe she was suggesting an illegal action.
Kwame had the same predicament rolling around in his mind. He hated to commit a crime, but if it would save Wheeler and Linka, he decided it was worth it. "The question now is: where can we find some plutonium?"
"I think I can help you there," MAL said and rapidly searched his ever-increasing databank of harmful chemicals and elements. "Here we go—there is a nuclear fuel regeneration plant at Krasnoyarsk-26 in Russia."
"Russia?" Gi repeated. "Isn't there someplace we could go where we'd be a bit more inconspicuous?"
MAL searched again. "Well, there is the United States, but I highly doubt you'd be any less noticeable there. Other countries do have a nuclear arsenal, but it is either limited, such as the case with France and Israel, or highly militant and on a permanent high alert, like China."
"I guess we're off to Russia then," Kwame shrugged.
Ma-Ti nodded. "Let's not tell Linka about this when we bring them back."
Location: Eco-Plaza, New York, USA
Date: August 14, 2024
"Sir, I don't care who you claim to be, I am not allowing you inside," the front desk secretary warned. Her tone indicated that if Wheeler continued to push, she would call security.
Wheeler had told her his real name, and naturally, she didn't believe him. Why should she? The Wheeler Sloane known in 2024 was much older, a successful attorney, and hadn't been a Planeteer in years. Feeling somewhat defeated, he walked back to Linka, who was resting on one of the lobby's couches. "Well, I tried babe, but it didn't work."
"Of course it did not work," Linka sighed. She told him it wouldn't work before he even attempted it. Of course, he didn't listen. He never did. "We cannot go in there and be ourselves."
"What do you suggest then?" Wheeler asked and picked up a magazine he had never heard seen before. He found it somewhat humorous that an organization built around ecology would have magazines, developed from paper, in their lobby. It was then he noticed a small symbol on the upper-right hand corner claiming the magazine was created from something called Plastica. "I don't know how much longer I can take it here. Sure, everything's clean, but it's all too weird."
Linka nodded. "I know what you mean. While waiting, someone passed by and commented on my costume design and how much I resembled the real Linka when she was young. I had no idea how to respond to that."
While pondering their next move, one of the three elevators beeped and opened up. Out stepped two males—one moderately tall and blond, wearing a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. The other was Asian, a bit shorter, and had spiky jet-black hair and wore a shirt, jacket, and baggy pants, which fell over his sneakers. Both were laughing about something while walking towards the front desk. "Anything interesting, Sally?" the blond asked.
Sally shook her head and motioned for him to wait as she was talking to someone through her headset. Once done, she turned to look at him. "The UN wants to hold an environmental summit this fall, and has requested that at least one Planeteer attend. Otherwise, nothing; sorry, Matt."
Linka's head shot up. She remembered the computer terminal from earlier had said her future son's name was Matthew. "Could that be him?"
"Could who be what?" Wheeler asked, pulled out of his daydream.
"The secretary called him Matt," Linka said, tilting her head in blond male's direction. "That computer said our son is named Matt."
"Might be a coincidence," Wheeler shrugged. He didn't believe that, but again, he wasn't quite sure what he believed anymore. "Matt isn't exactly an uncommon name."
Linka ignored him as she squinted to see if Matt had a ring on. Sure enough, he did: one that was silver with a red gem. "Your Fire ring, Wheeler—he has it!"
"Yeah, I just noticed that too," Wheeler replied. "The other guy has Gi's Water ring as well."
"Come on, buddy," Xiang said to Matt. "We need to go pick up my hover-board. It's probably repaired by now."
"You and your stupid hover-board," Matt smirked. "You know, you never would've damaged it if you hadn't decided to race down a mountain."
"Yeah, but what fun is it racing around the city?" Xiang replied.
With that, the two future Planeteers left the building as Linka and Wheeler watched. "Well, at least they didn't notice us," Wheeler commented.
"They were too busy talking about that hover-board thing," Linka noted. "Is that something like a skateboard?"
Wheeler shrugged. "Probably, but how would I know?"
Linka stood up to leave when a thought occurred to her. "Wouldn't Gaia know if we had time traveled and wouldn't she be able to detect two Fire and Wind rings?"
"Yeah, well, things aren't exactly the same here as it was for us," Wheeler said, holding the door open for Linka. "I mean we stayed on Hope Island, which while nice, really needed some decent air conditioning."
"Da, but I still cannot help but wonder why Gaia has not detected us here," Linka questioned, as she and Wheeler stepped outside. It was then that Linka literally bumped into a woman with long brown hair, a long-sleeved shirt, a skirt and high-heeled boots. "Oh! Excuse me," Linka said, cursing her clumsiness.
"It is okay," the woman responded, her English laced with a German accent. She cocked an eyebrow at Linka and said, "It is remarkable. You look exactly like my boyfriend's mother—and you, like his father."
Wheeler and Linka stared at each other for a moment. If they fit the description of this woman's boyfriend's parents, then the only logical conclusion was that she was dating Matt Sloane. Linka reacted first. "Da, we get that all the time."
The woman stood there, placing her hands on her hips. "Huh. Matt's mother is Russian too. Are you two stalkers or something?"
"No, no… not at all," Wheeler laughed. The laugh was forced, but he hoped it sounded real. "Some people just look and sound the same—it's weird, really. By the way, if you don't mind me asking, who are you?"
"I am Stephanie Weber," she stated, surprised she wasn't immediately recognized. "You know—the girl with the Heart ring?"
"That's where I've seen you before!" Wheeler lied. "On the news, of course—silly me! Well, it was great to meet you Stephanie, but we need to get going."
"Auf wiedersehen," Stephanie nodded and walked proudly into the Eco-Plaza.
"I do not like her," Linka said sternly and then mocked Stephanie. "I am Stephanie Weber, you know, the girl with the Heart ring?"
Wheeler had never seen Linka mimic someone for entertainment purposes, much less out of annoyance. He couldn't help but laugh. "So…I guess she wouldn't have been your first choice as a new Planeeter, huh?"
"Nyet," Linka firmly answered. "I do not know what our son sees in her."
Completely ignoring the fact that neither one of them knew Matt well enough to judge his decisions, Wheeler merely grinned. "I know what he sees and it's got nothing to do with attitude."
Linka let out an annoyed grunt. "Stupid hormone-driven Yankees…"
"Hey, come on," Wheeler snickered. "You have to admit, she is cute."
"I suppose some men might find her…attractive," Linka stubbornly admitted.
Sensing the whole situation was bothering Linka, Wheeler put an arm around her. "She doesn't hold a candle next to you, babe."
Smiling at the compliment, Linka relaxed a little. "I think I am just feeling stressed out. I want to go home."
"Yeah, me too," Wheeler nodded. "But I think we do go home—sometime or another. I mean, if our future selves are here today, then we had to have returned to our time in order to grow older and make it to this time period, right?"
Linka blinked disbelievingly at Wheeler. "That makes complete sense. Wheeler, how did you come up with that?"
"Kanyeshna…" Linka muttered. "Regardless how you came to that conclusion, Wheeler, it works. I only hope we return soon."
Date: June 23, 1998
Reaching Russia as the evening was rolling in, the Geo-Cruiser flew in low, attempting to avoid radar detection. Out of all the Planeteers, Gi was undoubtedly the most experienced pilot and as such, she deftly handled the golden aircraft with ease.
"Are we there yet?" Ma-Ti asked, both nervous and bored at the same time.
Gi shortened the Geo-Cruiser's radar range and made sure the signal was passive. "Yes, we're almost there—now stop bugging me or I'm ejecting your seat."
"I have a question," Ma-Ti said. "How are we going to get the plutonium? I don't think they'll let us walk in there and grab a few samples. And even if they did, how do we handle it? It's deadly."
"Already thought of, Ma-Ti," Gi announced. "We'll slip in under the cover of night and wear our Haz-Mat suits. If anyone spots us, you work your magic on them."
"I don't feel right about altering a person's perception or erasing their memory," Ma-Ti weakly protested.
"I don't either," Gi said, "but it might be necessary this one time if we are going to save Linka and Wheeler."
Ma-Ti nodded. He understood—he just didn't like it. "I wish Kwame were with us. Three people might have more luck at this than two."
"You know someone had to remain behind to watch Doctor Blight and MAL," Gi sighed. Having a conversation with a worrywart and looking for a place to land at the same time was eating away at her nerves. "Besides, there's a greater chance three could screw up than two. The less people involved in an operation, the less complex it becomes, therefore generally leading to fewer problems."
"You are right," Ma-Ti conceded. "Now all we must do is wait until nightfall and avoid their radar."
Location: Some motel, New York, USA
Date: August 14, 2024
Wheeler looked around the room and grimaced. "Sorry about this, babe." Wheeler had plenty of money in his wallet for 1998, but prices had increased dramatically in the last twenty-six years. It was a stretch for Wheeler to afford dinner and this motel room. Even so, he felt bad about it. "Wish I could've done more, or at least, a room with two beds."
"It is all right," Linka responded and looked at the room's single queen-sized bed. "Besides, I like the idea of one bed."
Wheeler's jerked up. "You do?"
"Da, I do," Linka said, almost as silent as a whisper. She had been thinking about them as a couple and realized she loved the thought of it. If they could raise two children to become Planeteers, then she figured they had to have done something right. Furthermore, she could use this as an excuse to let Wheeler truly know how she felt. "So, are you going to join me, or sleep on the couch?"
Needing no more encouragement, Wheeler removed his sneakers and jumped into the bed beside Linka, who laughed at his eagerness. Reaching for the light switch, Wheeler moved under the covers and grinned. "So…what do you have in mind?"
Linka chuckled and kissed him. "I think you know."
Wheeler couldn't believe his luck. He thought for sure this was a dream, but that notion was quickly put aside as Linka embraced him. Any and all thoughts, for the rest of the night, were on Linka and their nocturnal activities.
Date: June 24, 1998
"Heart," Ma-Ti whispered and sent a mental suggestion to the soldiers guarding the nuclear storage facility. Within a few minutes, all guards were soundly unconscious, leaving the area unprotected. "It's done, Gi. I still wish I didn't have to do it."
Gi nodded and crept clumsily towards the wire fence. She hated her Haz-Mat suit; it was bulky and uncomfortable. Ma-Ti didn't look like he enjoyed wearing his anymore than she did. "I know, Ma-Ti, but sometimes we need to do things we don't like—such as working with Blight, for instance."
"Well, I only put them to sleep," Ma-Ti said, trying to convince himself of the validity of his actions. "They'll be nursing a headache later, but nothing worse than that."
"Fine," Gi sighed as she felt raindrops fall on her face. "Damn. Will rain wake the guards up?"
Ma-Ti shook his head. "It shouldn't, but if they do, I suppose I can knock them out again."
"Good," Gi replied and then put her brilliant brain to work. Without Wheeler, Linka or Kwame, they couldn't use force to bust or burn down the gate. It was too high to climb and even if it weren't, there was barbwire wrapped around the top to discourage intruders. Then, as the rain increased its intensity, she got an idea. "Ma-Ti, hang on to your hat, I've just got a brainstorm!"
"That's not funny, Gi," Ma-Ti groaned. "And besides, I don't have a hat."
"Just shut up and watch," Gi snapped. "Water!" With the rain pouring down on them, Gi's ring didn't have to look far for ammunition. Gathering the water up and ordering it to surround the gate, Gi then mentally commanded the water to freeze. Due to the magic her ring employed, the freezing process was accelerated and the water quickly iced over the steel gate.
"I don't understand," Ma-Ti said. "How will this help us?"
In response to Ma-Ti's question, Gi gave the frozen gate a hard kick. Cracked and brittle from the cold, the gate snapped and fell to the ground. "Does that answer your question?" Gi smirked. Seeing Ma-Ti nod an affirmative, she motioned him to follow. "Come on—we've got work to do!"
Walking carefully, as if they were being watched, the two Planeteers stealthily entered the compound and looked around. "Now…if I were a stockpile of plutonium," Gi wondered out loud, "where would I be?"
"Too bad we can't read the signs, huh?" Ma-Ti shrugged.
"We may not have to," Gi said and moved towards the nearest resting guard. "Can you search his brain for the information?"
"I don't know," Ma-Ti answered honestly. "I've never attempted such a thing, and to be honest, I wouldn't want to. That's an invasion of someone's privacy and even if I did it right, I wouldn't know how a memory probe would affect this man."
Rapidly growing tired of Ma-Ti's incessant whining, she stormed up to the young South American boy and nearly bit his head off. "Look, I'm sick of 'I don't want to,' or 'it isn't right.' We're not here to discuss the moral implications of our actions. We are here for one reason and one reason only, and incase you've forgotten, that's to rescue Wheeler and Linka. If that means we have to perform some questionable activities, then we do it! Is that clear?"
Shocked by Gi's outburst, Ma-Ti backed away. "G-Gi, I didn't mean—I mean—I don't know. I'll be more cooperative, okay?"
"Damn straight you will," Gi growled. "Now scan that man's mind and be quick about it!"
Not wanting to argue, Ma-Ti kneeled down next to the fallen soldier and pressed his ring up against the man's forehead. "Heart," Ma-Ti murmured and closed his eyes, sifting through the soldier's collection of knowledge and memories. Finally, he found what he was looking for and turned to Gi. "We go two buildings to the north and then three buildings to the east, and we'll see a large bunker. From there, we enter it and we'll have access to all plutonium we want."
"Good going, Ma-Ti," Gi smiled. "Let's go!"
Running in the direction Ma-Ti specified, they quickly came up upon the building described in the soldier's mind. Unfortunately, there was a keypad attached to the door and required the user to know not only the specified numbers to get in, but also the Russian alphabet. Gi was about to repeat her performance from earlier when Ma-Ti walked up to the keypad and gingerly entered in the code. The doors hissed open as Gi stared at Ma-Ti. "How did you do that?"
"While I was in that guard's head, I took the code," Ma-Ti grinned. "I saw it floating around in his memories, and I figured it might be important."
"Okay, I'm impressed," Gi admitted, catching sight of the bunker's plutonium cache. "Now let's grab the plutonium and get out of here before the guards wake up."
As the two hefted several cases of lead-packed plutonium out of the bunker, they were stopped when they heard a rifle cock behind them. They turned around slowly and saw a soldier aiming his weapon at them and shouting several long phrases in Russian. Gi and Ma-Ti couldn't understand a word of Russian, but they could catch the gist of his message by his tone and demeanor. Gi sighed. "Shit."
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 24, 1998
Kwame was tired. He was also worried about the rest of the Planeteers: two on a mission to steal plutonium and another two shot into the future. He wouldn't have believed the situation had he not been there to see Blight's TDWC in action. As it was, he was irritated at having to baby-sit Doctor Blight and MAL, but it was necessary. Without someone watching over them, the two would most likely attempt to screw the Planeteers over. "Enjoying yourselves?" he asked.
"We're having a real gas," Blight replied through gritted teeth. "If you're anxiously awaiting something miraculous, I wouldn't hold your breath."
"The good Doctor is quite correct, I'm afraid," MAL informed. "The TDWC was heavily damaged and even if we do manage to repair it, which seems unlikely, we'll still need the necessary plutonium to power it."
"Yes, I know, we've been over this before," Kwame grumbled. "If Ma-Ti and Gi have had any luck, they should be finished grabbing the plutonium you need. All we require from you two is that you fix the TDWC."
"And what if we can't?" Blight asked, stopping to brush her blonde hair out of her eyes. "Even if we do get it working, there's no telling how it'll operate—your friends could come back as chopped beef for all we know."
Kwame rubbed his temples and stood up. He towered over the evil doctor and knew his height would give his threat more leverage. "You will fix it, and it will work. If you fail to do this…well…let's just say you won't have to worry about us 'Planet-Pests' anymore. You'll be too busy trying to keep from drooling on yourself."
"I think you're bluffing," MAL snickered. "You're Planeteers; the good guys. Doing something like that would be against whatever ridiculous moral code you follow."
Kwame nodded. "Perhaps, but we would make a special exception in Doctor Blight's case and as for you, we'd format your hard drive."
"I still say you wouldn't do it," MAL said.
"Maybe you're right," Kwame shrugged. "But do you really want to take that risk?"
Blight grimaced. "I don't—MAL, keep working."
"Good," Kwame smiled. "We understand each other perfectly now."
Location: Some motel, New York, USA
Date: August 15, 2024
Linka stirred and woke up as the morning sun blazed through the room's window. She yawned and looked over at the warm body beside her, still asleep, and smiled. "Wheeler…Wheeler, wake up," she said softly.
Wheeler shifted and mumbled something. He was obviously tired from the night before and wanted to sleep in. Seeing this, Linka nudged him again. "Wake up sleepy-head, we need to figure out what we are doing today." As much as Linka wanted to stay in bed with Wheeler, they needed to find a way back home and that wouldn't be accomplished in their motel room. Unfortunately, it had become painfully obvious that Wheeler was not going to be cooperative.
Sighing, Linka grabbed the remote for the television—at least it resembled a TV—and hit the power button. Two options lit up on the screen: holovid or regular. Linka had no idea what a 'holovid' was, so she decided to choose that. A holographic image spewed forth from an orb-like sphere on top of the TV set and produced an image to watch. Linka was amazed and wished Wheeler was awake to see this. Resigned to channel surfing, she quickly found a news station, hoping it would tell her something informative instead of the usual drivel that filled the media. She was ultimately disappointed as the news merely commented on traffic problems, the weather, some foreign aid issue and Bruce Wayne's apparent run for President of the United States on the GOP ticket. "Shto v adu?" Linka muttered under her breath. She couldn't believe the networks were as full of crap in the future as they were in her time. Just as she was about to switch off the television, a special news bulletin flashed up. It was reporting that an eco-villain had appeared in Central Park and was trashing the place as the news anchor spoke. A cameraman and a reporter were on-scene as they had a live video feed and were showing shots of the destruction on the air. Shocked and somewhat excited, Linka practically smashed Wheeler with her pillow. "Wheeler! Wake up you snoozing Yankee! There is trouble at Central Park!"
Blinking his eyes, Wheeler groggily sat up in bed and looked at the television's holographic picture. "It's a hologram."
"Da," Linka nodded, "but that is not what is important—look! The Planeeters—the future Planeeters—will appear to fight this eco-villain in Central Park! We must get there quick!"
"Um…okay, but what good will that do us?" Wheeler asked, his brain still cloudy.
"If anyone will know how to get us back to our time, it will be the Planeteers," Linka explained. "At the very least, perhaps Gaia could help us!"
Wheeler, still wanting several more hours of sleep, thought about just falling back into bed. He took one look at Linka, however, and decided against it. Yawning, he got up and began to get dressed. Linka followed suit and they both raced out of the motel room to catch a taxicab.
Date: June 24, 1998
"Is there anything you can do?" Gi asked Ma-Ti. They were caught stealing plutonium by a Russian guard and Gi didn't want to hurt the man—after all, he was only doing his duty.
Ma-Ti looked over at Gi and then at the soldier. The guard was still saying things in Russian, none of which either Gi or Ma-Ti could understand, and had his rifle leveled at them. Although he disliked it, Ma-Ti knew he'd have to knock the man out again or risk getting shot. "Heart," he whispered and the soldier promptly fell to his knees and then collapsed. "There, that should keep him out for a while."
"Hopefully the other guards are still unconscious as well," Gi said. "Let's get to the Geo-Cruiser and get out of here, ASAP!"
Following Gi's lead, Ma-Ti ran out of the facility and past the destroyed gate. There they found the Geo-Cruiser, which fortunately, rested undiscovered. They stored the lead-lined plutonium cases in the back of the aircraft, removed their Haz-Mat suits, and then settled into their seats. "Everything is ready and set to go," Ma-Ti said, checking his instruments as co-pilot.
Gi, happy to be out of her Haz-Mat suit, gave a thumbs-up and lifted the Geo-Cruiser off the ground. "I just hope everything's still okay at Doctor Blight's lab—if Kwame has fallen asleep or worse, shaken the entire place apart, all of this could be for nothing."
"We must think positive, Gi," Ma-Ti remarked.
"You're right," Gi nodded as she steered the Geo-Cruiser through the air and out of Russian airspace.
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 24, 1998
Kwame paced back and forth through the lab. He wasn't particularly restless; in fact, he needed rest badly. He was merely walking so he wouldn't fall asleep. He knew he couldn't take his eyes off Blight and MAL for a moment. As he strode up to Blight, he wearily grinned. Before he could say anything though, Blight threw down one of her tools and looked him in the eyes. "No, it is not ready, and so help me, if you ask one more time, I'll find some way to kill you," Blight seethed. "I don't care what you do to me anymore, but for the love of God, stop bugging me you stupid eco-twit!"
Not quite sure how to respond to that, Kwame merely backed away. "Okay…whatever you say. As long as you fix it."
MAL moved his monitor between Blight and Kwame, interjecting himself into the conversation. "Excuse me, but there's an aircraft coming in, and from its radar signature, I'd say it's the Geo-Cruiser."
"Finally!" Kwame beamed. "Maybe now I can get some sleep!"
"You think you need sleep?" Blight replied. "I'm tired as all hell, and I desperately need my beauty rest."
"It wouldn't help, so why bother anyway…" Kwame muttered.
"What was that?"
Blight would've pressed Kwame for the truth, but Gi and Ma-Ti walked in, carrying several heavy lead-lined suitcases full of plutonium. "I hope this is the right stuff," Gi said, placing one of the suitcases on a nearby counter. "We had to go through a lot to get it."
"Hey, no one said you had to," Blight quipped. "I was perfectly willing to let you three go on your way and say sayonara to the other two eco-brats."
"Have I ever told you how much I hate your guts?" Gi snapped.
"Ladies…ladies…" MAL said, trying to calm two women down. "This bickering, while extremely entertaining, won't get us anywhere."
"For once I am forced to agree with MAL," Ma-Ti reluctantly admitted. "We need to work together, no matter how odd it may seem."
"Right, whatever," Blight sighed. She looked at the suitcases and mumbled something to herself. "These are the right ones—I hate to admit it, but good job."
"You can read Russian?" Kwame asked, surprised.
"Some, but I am by no means fluent," Blight responded. "I would suggest everyone here put on a Haz-Mat suit, unless of course you don't want to. That's fine by me too."
"We will," Gi said, not looking forward to the bulkiness of the suit. "First Ma-Ti and Kwame, then me and you'll go last."
Blight looked defiantly at Gi. "Why last?"
"Because I don't trust you," Gi told the mad doctor. "If you put on a hazardous material suit first, you'll open up the plutonium and expose us all to harmful radiation."
Blight put a hand to her chest and melodramatically feigned insult. "Would I do that?"
"Yes, you would," Ma-Ti snickered. "Gi, we'll be right back. Come on, Kwame, let's get our suits from the Geo-Cruiser."
"You do realize that even with the plutonium, there's no telling if the device will work," Blight explained. "MAL and I had to perform a hasty repair job with Kwame watching us."
"I'm sure you did a fine job," Gi said, devoid of any emotion in her voice. "And if you didn't, you'll merely work until it's fixed properly."
"It's your turn," MAL informed Gi, seeing Ma-Ti and Kwame walk back inside all suited up.
"Right…" Gi hesitantly replied as she walked outside to grab her Haz-Mat suit.
Kwame flexed his fingers and looked at Blight. "I'm sure you have a suit already prepared inside, am I right?"
Blight nodded as Gi returned, dressed for duty. "I suppose that's my cue," she said and with that, walked to the back room to suit up. Blight returned shortly, wearing a hot pink and purple Haz-Mat suit. Seeing the Planeteers' faces, she shrugged. "Who says I can't be protected in style?"
Gi shook her head. "Right, whatever. Are we ready to load the plutonium into the TDWC?"
"Yes," MAL confirmed as he gripped the beam-emitter and popped open its cartridge-loading bay. It was then that the TDWC unexpectedly began to spark and shorted out. "If I were human, I'd punch something."
The three Planeteers groaned and eyed Blight. She smiled nervously, and began removing her suit. "I guess we still need to work a few bugs out, don't we MAL dear?"
"It would appear so," MAL replied as the Planeteers removed their suits as well.
Location: Central Park, New York, USA
Date: August 15, 2024
Back in the twentieth century, and much of the early twenty-first century as well, Central Park had a reputation for being unsafe and full of strange, unusual people. While the latter had remained virtually unchanged, the park's safety had increased dramatically. However, this didn't take into account crazed eco-villains who wanted nothing more than to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting populace. "I'll kill you all!" Nuklon bellowed as he flew through the air and irradiated several trees, melting them down into wood pulp and ash. He then targeted several police officers at the scene and tossed a microwave beam at them. Fortunately for the officers, a rock formation sprang up from the ground and shielded them for the blast.
The officers, shaken and confused, turned to see Kya Kambuto, her ring raised high and controlling the very forces of earth itself. She tossed her long curly dark-brown hair and looked at the police officers. "You'd better get out of here—we'll handle it from here."
"So finally, you worthless second generation wimps get here!" Nuklon laughed, but quickly turned serious. "Wait a minute…where are the other four?"
"Right here, ugly!" Nuklon recognized the voice and narrowly dodged Matt Sloane's fire blast as he flew by on his hover-board, followed by Xian Koji, also on a hover-board.
"See?" Xian grinned. "I told you these boards would come in handy."
"Yeah, yeah…keep your mind on the mission," Matt reminded his always loony, yet extremely reliable, friend.
Arriving via hover-bike, both Katherine Sloane and Stephanie Weber appeared on the scene and joined their teammates. "Nice of you two to stop by," Kya snidely remarked. "What kept you? Oh wait, was it a fashion emergency?"
"Das geht dich einen Scheißdreck an!" Stephanie rejoined. "Schlampe."
"What did she say?" Xian asked, his hover-board lowering itself down to the ground.
"I don't think you want to know," Katherine said and gave a stern look at Stephanie.
"You know what," Katherine grimaced. "We said no foreign language—we operate out of the United States, therefore we speak English unless in another country. Besides, what you said was really coarse."
Stephanie merely shrugged. "She deserved it."
"Um…can we return the attention to me, please?" Nuklon asked as he destroyed several more trees, a park bench and a horse carriage, sans the horse and driver who had escaped moments before.
"It's always about you," Xian said. "Me, me, me—that's the problem with kids today, why back in my day, we didn't have no fancy—"
Nuklon shot a blast at Xian, who easily evaded it. "Shut up, you twit," the radioactive villain growled.
"Well…so much for a romantic carriage ride through the park, right babe?" Matt winked at Stephanie, hovering slightly higher up than Xian.
Stephanie blushed. "I would suppose so."
"Let's focus here, people," Kya said, snapping her fingers in front of Matt and Stephanie. "We've got a radioactive nut job loose in the park and it's our responsibility to take care of this, so let's stow the flirting for a few minutes, okay?"
"I take offense at being called a 'nut job,'" Nuklon remarked.
"Oh yeah?" Xian smirked. "What would you call yourself?"
"Sanity challenged with nuclear tendencies," Nuklon offered.
"Right…" Matt began and turned to his sister. "Katy, can you keep him busy while Xian and I double back around and hit him from the rear?"
"Consider it done," Katherine replied.
As this was going on, Wheeler and Linka arrived at Central Park, but were kept from the action by a police barricade around the area. "Excuse me, officer," Wheeler started, " we need to get through."
"No can do, son," the officer replied, barely sparing Wheeler a glance. He—along with his colleagues—were far too busy keeping bystanders and the press at bay to pay much attention to the fire-branding Planeteer.
Linka, looking at the fight and gripping the barricade hard, turned to Wheeler. "We must get in there!"
"Yeah, but how?" Wheeler asked, wishing he had a real plan or something to work with.
Blocked by the police, Wheeler and Linka watched as Matt, Xian and Katherine put their plan into action. Katherine called upon her ring and blew a gust of wind at Nuklon, knocking him off balance. At this exact moment, Matt and Xian rushed in, throwing fire and water at the nuclear-powered menace. Unfortunately, Nuklon was no fool and had set up an energy barrier moments before the attack, and thus deflected the incoming fire and water blasts. Now somewhat angry, he sent out a wave of energy at both Matt and Xian, throwing them off their hover-boards and deeper into the park.
"Mein Gott!" Stephanie exclaimed. "Matt!"
"Come on, we've got to see if they're all right," Kya urged and ran, with Stephanie and Katherine following, to where the two men had landed.
"Maybe that hit knocked some sense into you two," Katherine chuckled, kneeling down to check her brother and Xian. "You two look okay—a little banged up, but otherwise fine."
Watching Nuklon charge himself up, Kya attempted to gain her teammates' attention. "None of us are going to be okay if we don't do something and quick!"
Having seen how Nuklon resisted the Planeteers' assault and thrust them deeper into the park, Wheeler and Linka were now more worried than ever. Deciding that they needed to help, regardless of what the police might do to stop them, the two time-lost Planeteers jumped the barricade and ran into Central Park, heading in the direction of the battle. They were just out of eyesight when they saw Nuklon power himself up for the attack. It was then that Wheeler acted and yelled, "Fire!"
Caught by surprise, trails of flame wrapped around Nuklon and not only burned him, but sent him careening towards the ground, injured and breathing heavily. Linka then stepped up and called out, "Wind!" The result was a spectacular whirlwind that carried Nuklon high up into the air and then smashed him down into the ground. The force of the hit was so extreme, that the cracks were formed where Nuklon landed. The irradiated eco-villain, now badly broken and wounded, moaned in pain as he lay there. What really caught the Planeteers' eyes, however, were the young looking Wheeler and Linka who had just saved them.
"What? Who?" Kya stammered.
"I know them!" Stephanie said, cradling Matt. "I met them outside the Eco-Plaza yesterday."
"Steph, I'm okay, come on…" Matt said, feeling a little embarrassed and stood up.
Stephanie, for her part, backed away and looked a little upset. "Okay, but you do not have to be mean about it."
"Ah…here we go again!" Xian sighed, rolling his eyes. Every time Matt raised his voice to Stephanie, whether or not it was warranted, she would act hurt and then get him to apologize and usually take her out to dinner to make up. It was a cycle that everyone could see, except those two.
"Ignore those two, they're always like this," Katherine said, stepping closer to Wheeler and Linka. "This may sound crazy, but you two look like my parents—that and those rings you have make me think something very strange is going on."
"Well…I…um…" Linka began and trailed off. She wasn't sure how to explain.
Nuklon budged and groaned. "Xian…come here."
"What do you want?" Xian asked, ready with his ring.
"Medical…insurance card…in side pocket…"
Xian started laughing. "You've got to be kidding me."
"Am I the only sane one here?" Kya huffed.
"No, just the only boring one," Stephanie replied.
"Girl, you are so looking for an ass-whooping," Kya snapped.
"Allergic…to penicillin…" Nuklon continued, hoping someone was listening to him.
"Will all of you please just shut up!" Katherine shouted and then looked down at Nuklon. "That goes double for you."
"My sister's right," Matt said, eyeing Wheeler and Linka. "You two do resemble our parents, and those rings are—were, rather—theirs. Care to explain yourselves?"
"This is what we get for saving you?" Wheeler asked incredulously. "I can't believe the lack of teamwork you five displayed and you definitely need more work with your rings if that's the best you can do."
Linka elbowed Wheeler. "Wheeler, stop it. We are here to get their assistance, not to start another fight."
"Wheeler?" Matt queried. "That's my father's name."
"I thought you two said you just looked like Matt's parents," Stephanie said, looking straight at Wheeler and Linka.
"Well, we sort of lied," Wheeler told her. "You see, we really are Wheeler Sloane and Linka Ivanova—"
"Ivanova?" Katherine blinked. "That's my mother's maiden name—who are you and what do you want with us?"
"As Wheeler was trying to explain," Linka began, "we are your parents, as incredible as it seems. We were sent here to the future."
"For what purpose?" Xian asked.
"We didn't do it voluntarily," Wheeler explained. "Doctor Blight's partner, MAL, zapped us with some sort of weapon and the next thing we knew, we arrived here."
"That must be the Time Displacement Warp Cannon," Kya said and then caught sight of Wheeler and Linka's confused expressions. "It's an antique now, and inoperable, but it's on display in the trophy room at the Eco-Plaza. However, it was one of Doctor Barbara Blight's inventions and supposedly, it could send people back and forth through time."
"Okay, well…shouldn't we go take a look at it?" Wheeler suggested. "It might be our ticket home."
"We will, but first we have to deactivate the glow rod here," Xian smirked and bent down to disable Nuklon's gauntlets.
"Okay, I've called the police to come to get him," Katherine said, pointing to her watch. Linka, naturally intrigued with technology, glanced over and noticed it had a video screen. Katherine saw this and smiled. "We now have two-way radio broadcast communication through watches, as well as normal FM and AM stations and TV."
"We can discuss that later," Matt remarked and grabbed his hover-board. "Xian and I'll see you guys back at the Plaza." With that, two Planeteers sped off, dodging and weaving between traffic.
"I'm just amazed that they never hit into anything," Katherine mused.
"Or that no one hits into them," Stephanie added and then looked at Linka and Wheeler. "You two can ride with us—our bikes can hold two people; just hang on tight."
As Wheeler and Linka climbed onto the hover-bikes—Linka making sure she sat behind Stephanie due to the cute remark Wheeler made about her yesterday—the two female Planeteers revved their engines and engaged their airlift thrusters. "Do you have a ride back, Kya?" Katherine asked, tucking her long red hair into her helmet.
"I brought my car," Kya answered. "It's parked about a block away."
"Okay, good," Stephanie replied, somewhat hoping Kya would fall into an open manhole along the way.
"See you later," Katherine said and then peeled out, closely followed by Stephanie.
"I really hate that German slut," Kya growled.
"Yeah…I do too…" Nuklon coughed.
Kya rolled her eyes. "Oh, shut up."
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 24, 1998
"So then, Plunder walks out, wearing nothing but his underwear—tighty whities, I might add—and he yells, 'who the hell took my clothes!'" Blight exclaimed, laughing the entire time. Ma-Ti, surprisingly enough, found himself laughing along with her. Gi walked in, carrying a tray contained several cups of coffee and was surprised to hear laughter above Kwame's snores. She was startled to see Ma-Ti and Blight hysterical over a joke she had apparently missed the lead into.
"What is going on here?" Gi asked, setting down the tray.
"Nothing really," Ma-Ti said. "Babs was just telling me a few funny stories about other eco-villains."
"Babs?" Gi repeated under her breath. "Ma-Ti, can I speak to you for a moment? Yeah, come here."
Ma-Ti didn't know what Gi wanted to tell him, but he obeyed nonetheless. Once they were off in a distant corner, out of earshot from Blight, Gi tore into Ma-Ti. "What do you think you're doing? Babs? Are you crazy? That woman is a monster! We are here to get Wheeler and Linka back to our time; not to get all chummy with an eco-villain who'd have us shot and then tossed in a meat grinder if she could. Do you understand?"
Ma-Ti nodded solemnly. "I understand, Gi. I guess I just let my guard down. After all, it's difficult staying on top of someone all the time."
"Tell me about it…" Gi groaned. "Okay, so you made a mistake. A few jokes here and there don't hurt and who knows? Maybe she'll work faster—and better—if you talk to her like a person instead of a prisoner. All I'm saying is do not trust her. She'll stab you in the back when you least expect it."
"I got it, Gi," Ma-Ti replied, becoming annoyed. "I'm not an idiot. I know what you're saying, and no, I don't trust her." Not wanting to talk to Gi at the moment, Ma-Ti walked back to where he had been and sat down.
"Was there a problem?" Blight asked, examining the inner circuitry of the TDWC.
"No, nothing," Ma-Ti answered. He considered saying more, but the silence was broken by Kwame's snores, which turned into snorts as he woke up violently.
"Gah! Ah…huh…" Kwame muttered. "Where? Oh, I'm still here. Is it working yet?"
"What did I say about asking me when it's ready?" Blight said, containing her anger.
Kwame yawned. "That you'd kill me or something?"
"That's right," Blight replied. "And for your information, no, it is not ready. Not that you're doing anything to help. At least Ma-Ti is talking to me and Gi is grabbing coffee."
"What do you want me to do?" Kwame sighed.
Blight wasn't sure what Kwame could do—so far, all he'd done was watch over her, make threats and fall asleep. "I don't know—just do something constructive. What is it you do?"
"Ah! Well, on Hope Island I plant many trees and work in my garden," Kwame happily explained.
"I believe what the good Doctor meant was, 'what purpose do you serve in your group?'" MAL clarified.
"Yeah, you know, your function?" Blight detailed. "The firebug and blondie—"
"Wheeler and Linka," Ma-Ti corrected. "They have names."
"Okay," Blight said and began again. "Wheeler and Linka seem to be the main offensive pair, although I suppose that's when they're not off somewhere smooching."
Ma-Ti was surprised that Blight would ever notice such a thing. "You've seen that too?"
"Doctor Barbara Blight is a scientist of the highest order," MAL proudly said. "Observation is one of the most important tools in her line of work."
"Thank you MAL, dear," Blight smiled. "Now then, where was I? Oh yes—your function, Kwame. Ma-Ti does all sorts of weird things with animals' and peoples' minds, and Gi can control water anywhere, at anytime. You make rocks form or cause holes to appear in the ground. Now really, how useful is that?"
"I…uh…well…" Kwame stammered.
"Ahem!" Gi interrupted. "This isn't 'Bash Kwame Night.' You need to keep your mind in fixing the TDWC, and Kwame, for God's sake, do something other than sleep."
"I've already asked," Kwame said, "what is it you—any of you—want me to do?"
"Well, if you want my opinion, you could always jump off a cliff," MAL chuckled, but stopped when he saw Gi's face. "I meant as in cliff diving. It's a very healthy sport. Fun for all ages."
"Look, this is all very well and good, but I am human," Blight wearily enlightened her captors. "I need some rest. If I don't sleep soon, I think I'll collapse."
Gi thought this over. Normally Kwame would be the one to make these kinds of decisions, but he was too tired—and confused from Blight's speech—to make heads or tails out of the situation now. So it was up to her to decide if Blight should sleep or not. Gi hated to admit it, but Blight was probably right; if the mad doctor was to fix the TDWC with any precision, she did need some rest. "Fine, you can sleep, but you are to remain in sight of us at all times, and the three of us will take shifts in sleeping."
"That's fine with me," Blight agreed. It wasn't as if she could really refuse anyway.
"Kwame, since you…" Gi's words trailed off as she saw him asleep once again. "Okay, I was going to say that since Kwame seems to be the most tired, he could sleep first. I suppose that's somewhat unnecessary now."
"I don't really care who does what and when," Blight groaned. "I just need to sleep!"
Location: Eco-Plaza, New York, USA
Date: August 15, 2024
Wheeler and Linka were absolutely amazed. They had seen the outside of the Eco-Plaza building and the lobby, but the floors secured to the Planeteers were beyond anything they could have ever imagined. There was an indoor tennis court, indoor swimming pool, video game parlor, and an exercise room, among many other luxury accommodations not afforded to the original Planeteers on Hope Island. "This is unbelievable," Linka commented.
"If you think that's something," Matt grinned, "wait until you see the trophy room."
With that destination in mind, the future Planeteers led Wheeler and Linka into a large room full of oddities and knick-knacks; various items picked up from the Planeteers' adventures, both new and old. "Hey!" Wheeler exclaimed, walking to a familiar robotic quadruped in a glass case. "That's Jason!"
"Right," Katherine nodded. "In your time, he was state-of-the-art. Today, he's an antique."
"Bozhe moy!" Linka whispered. "Wheeler, come here!"
Wheeler moved up next to Linka and couldn't believe what he saw. In his wildest dreams, Wheeler never imagined that his Planeteer 'uniforms' would become a showpiece inside a glass case. Next to his clothes, were Linka's garments and like his, traced the history of the Planeteers. Also inside the case were fake replicas of their rings, among other personal items like Wheeler's autographed Walter Payton and Joe Namath footballs or Linka's laptop and keyboard synthesizer. "Now those I recognize! This is amazing; it's like some sort of museum dedicated to the Planeteers."
"It is," Stephanie said, gesturing to the different items on display. "Some of these are strictly trophies and remain in here at all times. Others, such as your gear, go on tour every once in a while in museums across the country."
"That's great, but where is that thing you spoke about earlier?" Wheeler asked. He could see by their faces that they had no idea what he was talking about. "You know, the thing Doctor Blight hit us with?"
"Oh, you mean the Time Displacement Warp Cannon," Matt chuckled. "That's down this way; follow me."
As they began walking, Linka looked around for the other two Planeteers. "Where are…what are their names…Xian and Kya?"
"You got it right," Katherine replied. "They're probably in the control room. That room has the finest computer and electronic systems money can buy, plus it allows us to keep in touch with Gaia."
"That reminds me," Linka began, "how come Gaia has not noticed our duplicate rings? And where is Gaia and why would she need computers to contact you? She once appeared when we traveled back in time to the late 1800's, and then normally materialized while flying the Geo-Cruiser."
"It's a long story," Katherine said. "I probably shouldn't tell you—as it is, you two already know too much about your future."
Wheeler stopped and looked at his future daughter. "It's okay to call us 'Wheeler' and 'Linka,'" he told her. "I've noticed that you—and Matt—have been refraining from calling us by name."
"I think it is because they feel awkward," Stephanie explained. "Their memories are your future. They know you two as 'Mom' and 'Dad.' I cannot imagine this feels normal to the two of you either."
"Nyet, it does not," Linka admitted. "It would have been strange enough to time travel to the future without meeting our kids. I am glad we did though. I am very proud of the both of you and the rest of the Planeteers."
"Thanks, Linka," Katherine smiled, and shook her head. "That just sounds so strange—calling my mother by her name."
"We're not your parents right now," Wheeler said. "Besides, we're around the same age here—it'd be weird for you to call us 'Mom' and 'Dad' anyway."
"Actually, we might even be older," Matt surmised. "What year did you come from?"
"1998," Linka replied. "Why?"
Matt and Katherine briefly thought about telling them about the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, but decided against it. As much as they'd love to save the people who died there that day, toying with time was too dangerous. Enough damage had already been done. Instead, Matt glanced at Katherine and then continued along his original thought. "I'm twenty-five and Katy is twenty-three. If you did come from 1998, then you're twenty-five," Matt said, pointing at Wheeler and then shifted towards Linka, "and you're twenty-four."
Linka immediately crunched the numbers together in her head. "If this is 2024, and Matt, you are twenty-five, then that means we give birth to you next year?"
The idea of being a father—a real father; not just a time traveler seeing his kids grown up—made Wheeler feel dizzy. "Next year? That's pretty close."
"Da," Linka agreed. She realized that sometime between 1998 and whenever Matt is born in 1999, they must've gotten married. The thought struck a chord of genuine curiosity within her. "Where are our wedding photos?"
"At your house," Katherine told her. "And no, we are not going there to get them. You'll just have to figure it out on your own like everyone else does. The last thing we need to have happen is Mom and Dad see you."
At that moment, the intercom buzzed overhead and Kya's voice boomed through. "Matt! Katherine! Your parents are here!"
"Ach scheisse!" Stephanie cried out. "Where can we stick you parents?"
"What?" Matt asked. "Which ones?"
"The young version," Stephanie said and then pointed towards a storage duct. "What about this? They can hide in there for a while!"
"In there?" Linka gasped. The storage duct may have been empty, but it wasn't very clean either. At least there were slats on the door so she could see out. "I do not want to—"
"No time to look for a better place, babe," Wheeler relented and grabbed Linka into the storage duct with him. Space inside the duct was tight so they had to stand fairly close to one another, which suited Wheeler just fine. Linka, however, was more interested in seeing herself at fifty.
"I hope I do not look…how do you say…wrinkled?" Linka whispered to Wheeler.
Wheeler shook his head. "Nah…I bet you look great."
It was then that the doors to the trophy room opened up and in stepped the older versions of Wheeler and Linka. "Mom, Dad, why didn't you two tell us you'd be visiting?" Katherine greeted. She was a little nervous, hoping that Wheeler and Linka wouldn't make any noises while hidden.
"Well, we were on our way to lunch when your mother suggested we drop by and see if you wanted to come along" the older Wheeler said, tugging a little at his suit. "After years of wearing these things, I still can't get used to them."
"Stephanie," Linka's older counterpart began, "you're welcome to join us. The others weren't too interested in going out. At least they weren't when we spoke to them coming up here."
While the conversation was going on, Wheeler and Linka peered out of the duct's door slats. "Holy…" Wheeler muttered under his breath. "Look at all the gray hair I've got. I think I can count the red hair on one hand."
"Do not be silly," Linka countered. "I think it makes you look…distinguished."
"Da, now be quiet," Linka scolded. "I want to see what I look like." Unfortunately, their older selves moved out of earshot, so Linka couldn't tell what was being said. She did, however, get a good look at herself. "From here, I do not look so different."
"See? I told you."
"I must be applying a lot of makeup," Linka sighed.
Wheeler rolled his eyes. If he disagreed, she'd point out some tiny flaw that probably didn't even exist, and if he agreed, she'd kill him. Deciding he couldn't win, Wheeler paid attention to the proceedings outside their hidden compartment. Finally, he saw their future doppelgangers—along with their future kids—walk out of the trophy room, busy in conversation. "Think we can leave yet?"
Before Linka could answer, the door flew open and they were face-to-face with Stephanie. "You two are very lucky," the German girl said. "If Matt's parents had stopped by for a real visit, you would have been spending a lot of time in there."
"What about you?" Linka asked. "How did you explain staying behind?"
"I just told them I forgot my ID card," Stephanie explained and then smiled. "I'm not missing out on a free lunch."
"My kind of girl," Wheeler quipped while Linka, in annoyance, stared evilly at him. "Two things just occurred to me, babe."
"Well, one is that your older self was using contractions," Wheeler began, "and two, if we're here now, wouldn't our older selves remember this moment and therefore know we're hiding from them?"
Ignoring Wheeler's remark about contractions, Linka thought over the second, more intellectual statement. "You are right. They must have known. Of course, maybe they—we—did not want to reveal it?"
"I do not know," Stephanie shrugged. "I find time travel confusing. I need to go—they are waiting for me downstairs." With that said, she left them alone in the trophy room to figure things out.
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 24, 1998
"I've done it!" Doctor Blight bellowed, the sound of her voice echoing off the steel walls of her lab.
MAL moved his screen closer to the mad scientist and grimaced. "You mean we've done it, don't you Doctor?"
"Right, that's what I meant," Blight said quickly.
"What's done?" Kwame asked, his eyes tired. Because Gi divvied up sleep assignments earlier, and he got to sleep first, Kwame was now the only Planeteer awake while Gi and Ma-Ti snored away. "Do you mean you've fixed the TDWC?"
Blight nodded and rubbed her eyes. She could've easily slept longer, but the Planeteers were pushy and after only a few hours rest, she was forced back to work again. "It should work. MAL and I've done everything we can, so if it doesn't work, I'm afraid you're just going to have put out some recruitment posters."
"Hopefully it won't come to that," Kwame said and nudged his teammates. "Wake up! Doctor Blight and MAL say they've got the TDWC operational again."
Ma-Ti yawned and stretched. "That's great." He meant to sound more excited, but his mind was still muddled from sleep.
"Let's save the congratulations for when this thing works," Gi cautioned. She stood up and walked over to Blight and MAL and looked at the beam-emitter. "You can fire in a moment."
Having discussed this before, Kwame and Gi moved into position, flanking Blight while Ma-Ti stood across and to the side of her. They wanted to watch her from all available angles incase she tried backing out now. "Ready?" Blight asked.
The three Planeteers nodded an affirmative, signaling Blight to activate the TDWC.
Location: Eco-Plaza, New York, USA
Date: August 15, 2024
"Well, what do we do now?" Linka asked Wheeler, feeling lost and worst of all, helpless to do anything about their predicament. She walked over to the display case housing the now-long antiquated TDWC. The information on the card inside read that the weapon's circuitry was fried twenty-six years ago. "So much for that option."
"I know what we could do…" Wheeler grinned, wrapping his arms around Linka's waist.
Linka shook her head in amusement. "You never cease to amaze me, Yankee."
"Is that a no?"
Linka merely smiled and put her arms around his neck. "Nyet," she said, and kissed him. Wheeler smiled and eagerly kissed back. The entire situation could've spiraled out of control right there in the future Planeteers' trophy room were it not for a familiar visitor who materialized before them. "Gaia!"
Gaia nodded and floated over to the two Planeteers. "I thought I felt something was wrong. Neither of you should be here."
"No kidding, Gaia," Wheeler retorted.
"Where have you been?" Linka inquired. "And why don't the Planeteers live on Hope Island anymore?"
Gaia sighed. "That's a long story, I'm afraid. The short version is that the United States—with extra funding from other nations—made a home base for the Planeteers here in New York after Hope Island was nearly destroyed by the eco-villains."
Wheeler had another question on his mind. "What about Ma-Ti? We found out he died and Duke Nukem had something to with it. Is that right?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it is," Gaia acknowledged. "He was killed in the same attack that leveled Hope Island. Since then, I have been laying low, regaining my strength and letting the Planeteers handle their operations, for the most part, by themselves."
Linka's face had a worried expression on it as she asked, "Gaia, can you send us back? The future is nice, but Wheeler and I want to go home."
"Unfortunately, I can't do it—not alone anyway," Gaia explained. "You were brought here by science, therefore only science can bring you back. If I were to use my powers on you and attempt to send you back in time, the results could be disastrous."
"Define disastrous," Wheeler said.
"Try this: I couldn't be sure of when or where you'd land," Gaia told the redhead. "You could end up in the year 1267 or 2019. Even worse, due to the unpredictability of mixing science and magic, you could land in a volcano or in outer space. Simply put, it would be far too dangerous."
Breaking the calm tone of conversation, Linka screamed. She saw a faint reddish-pinkish glow surround Wheeler and herself, and was watching her body slowly turn transparent. "What is happening?"
"Maybe you're returning to your own time," Gaia suggested and closed her eyes. She nodded, "Yes, they got the Time Displacement Warp Cannon working. You're going home."
"Fantastic!" Wheeler cheered and went to wrap an arm around Linka. Both rapidly turning immaterial, his arm phased right through Linka's waist. "I can't wait to tell the others about what we've seen here!"
It was then that Xian and Kya ran into the room. At the control center moments before, their readouts had indicated that an energy source like Gaia's had entered the compound's premises. Wondering why the spirit would leave Hope Island, they followed the source of the disturbance to the trophy room. "What's going on? Gaia, what're you doing here?" Kya asked.
Gaia scowled, ignoring her current set of Planeteers. "I can't allow that. I'm sorry, Planeeters—Wheeler, Linka—but I can't let you take memories of this place back to the past with you."
Against her former Planeteers' protests, she waved her hands over Wheeler and Linka, casting a spell as they completely disappeared.
"What was all of that about?" Xian demanded. "Where'd they go?"
"What sent them here in the first place is now recalling them back," Gaia answered and turned to face Kya. "I know I don't appear in person—so to speak—very often, but this situation required my personal attention."
Kya inched closer to Gaia and wondered out loud, "What did you do to them?"
"I erased select parts of their memory," Gaia informed. "I couldn't let them leave with extensive knowledge of the future, but I also felt it would be unfair to eliminate memories not directly involved with the Planeteers, their future selves or their children."
Location: Doctor Blight's Laboratory
Date: June 24, 1998
In a brilliant flash of light, both Wheeler and Linka appeared and promptly fell to the floor. "They're back!" Gi shouted and ran to her friends. Kwame and Ma-Ti followed suit, helping the two to their feet while giving them huge hugs.
"Well, isn't this a disgustingly sweet reunion," Blight spat and turned to MAL. "At least we're done being held hostage."
"I would—uh oh," MAL replied as the TDWC sparked and blew. The internal circuitry melted and fused together, rendering the weapon destroyed beyond repair. "That really blows."
"I'll take that," Wheeler announced and grabbed the TDWC. "I think it's pretty wasted, but just incase, I don't want you or anyone else time traveling."
Blight eyed Wheeler, pent up anger reaching a boiling point. "Fine! Just keep the damned thing! MAL and I are leaving, so you Planet-Punks can do whatever you want. I'm sick of you, I'm sick of this, I'm sick of everything!"
"Shouldn't we try and stop her?" Ma-Ti suggested weakly. He didn't feel like capturing her again, but he figured he had to offer.
Kwame shook his head and grinned. "No, I think we've tortured her enough. Besides, I want to go home too, and I bet Wheeler and Linka need some rest."
Exiting the laboratory, the Planeteers hopped into the Geo-Cruiser and took their customary seats, with Gi at the controls. "How come I never get to fly?" Ma-Ti complained.
"Just shut up and strap in," Gi sighed. She waited a moment for the others to secure their seat belts and took off. Once in the air and traveling at a safe airspeed, Gi turned to face Wheeler and Linka. "So tell us—what was the future like?"
The time-traveling duo stared at each other for a moment before answering. "To tell you the truth," Wheeler began, "I don't remember much of it."
"Neither do I," Linka said, concurring with Wheeler. "That is strange…you would think we could remember."
"I wouldn't worry, Kwame consoled. "You both went through a very traumatic experience. I wouldn't be surprised if it all comes back to you later."
Linka nodded. "I suppose you are right, Kwame."
"Besides," Ma-Ti started, "whatever happens will happen, and we'll all be there together to get through it."
As the flight progressed, and the talking ground to a halt, Wheeler and Linka would look over at each other and then quickly turn away. Eventually, the tension between the two became too strong for Linka. "What is it, Yankee?"
"Linka…I don't recall a lot from our trip into the future," Wheeler said, "but I remember a few things here and there."
"I can't shake the feeling that we…well, we kissed and did a lot more, if you catch my drift," Wheeler nervously informed the Russian blonde.
"I was thinking the very same thing," Linka admitted. Wheeler, for his part, was both relieved and thrilled. Linka could see this by his facial expression and smiled. "I do not know how, or why, but I can only remember certain things. That night we spent together, for instance, is still very vivid in my mind."
"I would've liked to have remembered the future," Wheeler said as he wrapped an arm around Linka. "That's a pretty weird statement, isn't it?"
"Da, it is," Linka giggled. "It could have been worse though. What if we did not remember our time together?"
"PDA alert…" Gi said softly.
Kwame smiled. "Oh, let them have it."
Wheeler crept closer to Linka. "So…you remember that, huh? Did you enjoy it?"
"Wheeler!" Linka exclaimed and blushed furiously. She moved closer to him as well, and said, "Da, I did."
"So you wouldn't object if I kissed you now?" Wheeler grinned, putting both of his arms around Linka.
Linka, still blushing, shook her head. "Nyet, I would not mind at all."
As soon as the words had escaped Linka's lips, Wheeler was kissing them. Instead of the usual short kisses the couple exchanged, this was a long, hard passionate kiss. At first, Linka was surprised by the fierceness of Wheeler's actions, but soon relaxed and grew into it, responding in kind. Needing air, the two were forced to part and stared into each other's eyes. "Bozhe moy…" Linka whispered.
"You can say that again, babe," Wheeler replied.
Linka smiled and rested her head on Wheeler's shoulder, intermittently playing with his jacket and a few loose strands of hair hanging over his forehead. "Maybe we should time travel more often."
"If this is the result, then I'm all for it," Wheeler said, tightening his arm around her waist.
Just as the couple were getting comfortable, Gaia, the Spirit of Earth, appeared. The Planeteers instantly cringed, already knowing what was coming next. "Planeteers, we have an eco-emergency!"
"Never would've guessed," Kwame sighed.
"What is it, Gaia?" Ma-Ti asked.
Gi mouthed the words "suck up" to Kwame who nodded in agreement. Somewhat frantic, Gaia either missed Gi's action or didn't care as she continued explaining the situation. "There are poachers in South Africa and hundreds of endangered species are in danger of being slaughtered."
As much as Wheeler and Linka wanted to help, they wanted to return home and rest even more. "This can't wait for an hour or two?" Wheeler pleaded.
"No, Wheeler, it can't wait," Gaia replied angrily and phased out.
Linka frowned. "That was fun," she muttered sarcastically.
"Heading for South Africa," Gi informed as she plotted the course.
"Well…I guess we can always be together later," Wheeler said to Linka.
"Da, and hopefully then we will have privacy," Linka responded and cuddled up to American redhead again. "Right now, we have a job to do."
"You're right, babe," Wheeler agreed. "Step on it, Gi!"
"Flooring it now, guys," Gi responded. "Hang on to your hats!"
With that said, the Geo-Cruiser flew off at an amazing speed towards the Planeteers newest ecological calamity.